Payag owner files lawsuit vs founder of RDR Cargo for fraud, ‘threat to kill’ (Part 1)By Cristina DC Pastor
They are two of the most visible business entrepreneurs in the Filipino American community until their friendship soured and they found themselves before a Queens court on charges of fraud, harassment and ‘threat to kill.’
On April 6, Rena Avendula, who is the owner of Payag Restaurant, filed a complaint of breach of contract and fraud against Rommel del Rosario, who owns and operates the cargo forwarding company RDR Services Corporation. Both businesses, located in Queens, are popular and enjoy the support and patronage of the FilAm community.
Avendula’s complaint states that around January or February of 2015, Del Rosario invited her to invest in his RDR shipment company. She said Del Rosario was looking “to take on equity partners,” according to papers filed before the Supreme Court of the State of New York County of Queens.
“Del Rosario represented to Plaintiffs that RDR was a successful cargo and shipping business, with strong historical sales, returning customers and that it consistently turned a profit. In addition, Del Rosario assured Plaintiffs that with the right partners, the business could grow and expand to offer its customers additional shipping services,” according to the complaint obtained by The FilAm.
In March of the same year, the partnership was finalized. It states that Del Rosario would retain 50 percent stake in RDR, Avendula would acquire 40 percent, and another Plaintiff, Linda Braga, would keep a 10 percent share. At the signing of the agreement, Avendula issued a $30,000 check as her initial investment.
The contract was amended in September, raising Avendula’s stake in the company from 40 percent to 51 percent, effectively giving her “full authority to operate and manage RDR.” However, when Avendula took over, she discovered that RDR was in “financial distress.”
“Plaintiffs discovered that RDR owed money to several vendors and was unable to pay its bills,” says the court papers. “RDR owed money to multiple people including a box company and a logistics forwarding company…that RDR owed approximately $173,000 in shipping and storage fees to logistic and container companies…that 10 of RDR’s shipping containers were being held by a distributor in the Philippines and are not being released because RDR owed money to the distributor. As a result…Plaintiffs received numerous complaints from customers because their packages were never delivered.”
The partners reached an agreement that Avendula and Braga would offer Del Rosario a loan of $160,000 as a form of “Capital Contribution” to be used to service RDR’s obligations. Plaintiffs continued to lend money until it totaled $200,000 over eight months.
“Avendula and Braga have not been reimbursed for any of their Capital Contributions to RDR,” says the complaint.
However, Plaintiffs said they discovered Del Rosario was making “sneaky” business deals. According to the complaint, he would “provide (customers) with an old RDR invoice and have the customers pay him in cash. Del Rosario would personally pick up these customers’ boxes so he would not be discovered by Avendula and Braga.” The customers began calling to check on their packages, and that’s how Plaintiffs found out about Del Rosario’s operation.
In short, “Del Rosario used these old contracts to run his own side business which circumvented RDR.” He “repeatedly stole money” from RDR, Avendula and Braga alleged in their complaint.
Del Rosario denied he was keeping the money.
“In March through October 2015 Plaintiffs discovered that Del Rosario was using RDR’s funds for his personal use, including but not limited to, using RDR’s funds to pay his parking tickets, his car lease payments, and the rent for his personal apartment.”
In October 2015, Del Rosario informed the Plaintiffs he was terminating the agreement. Avendula and Braga said they do not oppose the termination and dissolution of
the partnership, “so long as they are reimbursed and paid what they are owed.”
Avendula alleged in her complaint that “Del Rosario has sent text messages to Avendula’s friends threatening to kill Avendula. These statements and messages have made Avendula fear for her safety.” She has reported the “harassing and threatening messages” to the police but no arrest has been made.
Plaintiffs filed the following charges against Del Rosario:
• Breach of contract
• Breach of Fiduciary Duty
• Conversion and Misappropriation (of funds)
• Unjust Enrichment
• Tortious Interference with Business Relations
Avendula said Del Rosario made statements to certain people (such as Olivia Valderrama, Joy Escallona, Dhelma Lopez, etc.) that she stole money from him and RDR and used it for her Payag restaurant, a charge she vehemently denies. Avendula is represented by Elizabeth E. Schlissel, Esq.